The image on the left, courtesy of NASA/JPL and the Chandra spacecraft, displays a recent capture of what I am terming "celestial mating" rather than the usual terminology. By the way, the circles and letters are there to identify the individual galaxy clusters that are involved in this reproductive drama. To learn more, you may click here and here if you wish.
Hmm, celestial mating and reproductive drama am I anthropomorphizing space? Yes and no. I say yes with respect to explaining what is really happening when galaxies, of any number and size, come together. No, in the sense that they are far more powerful, more beautiful, and more vital to the universe than we mere humans.
Perhaps the most realistic term would be regeneration of the universe. In my humble opinion it is this dramatic, dynamic and often explosive merging or mating process that produces whole new populations of stars and eventually, for some, their gathering of orbiting dust, debris and planets. As we know, we are now pretty certain that many of those extra-solar bodies may be habitable planets that contain life. So mating, like Earth's own biological replenishment process, is what is happening in the universe - replenishment. I consider this encouraging and it strengthens my belief in both the dynamism and permanency of this energy system we call "universe."
Yes, there is, just like with us, birth, life, and death in the universe. The logic is stunning and also reassuring. Again, in my mind, it is an essential process that produces both endurance and stability in our lives and that of the universe. We humans are, of course, energy systems, and we essentially obey all the same rules as our celestial hosts. That's right we are components of celestial stability and balance. Miniscule yes, but we are still essential.
So, look up in awe, in humility, and with reassurance. We are needed. In that respect, we might want to consider doing a better job of preserving our host energy source - planet Earth and the solar system in which it resides.
My Celestia (c) 2009 Waddell Robey. All individual copyrights apply.